Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Because his father John was in the Royal Navy for most of his early working life and did not appear in many census records it has not yet been possible to trace Robert Edgar's family roots back more than about 30 years.
It is known that John T. Ford was born at Portsmouth in 1848 and probably joined the navy in the mid 1860s, but everything else is conjecture until 1883 when he married Elizabeth Sarah Fleming who had been born in Southampton in 1856. The couple first appear in the 1891 census by which time John had retired from the Royal Navy. They were living at 37 Lawson Road in Southsea with their children Ethel (b. 1883), Robert Edgar (b. 1885) and Mary (b. 1887).
By 1901 the family had moved round the corner to 9 Bramble Road and John had obtained employment as a Rigger in HM Dockyard. A few years later, in 1906, Robert Edgar left home and married Rosina, the 19 year old daughter of Dockyard Labourer William Robinson and his wife Victoria. Robert and Rosina were listed in the 1911 census living at 36 Methuen Road, Eastney with their three children, Florence, Robert and Doris, born in 1907, 1908 and 1909 respectively. At the time Robert was working as a woodworking machinist.
As a married man with a young family Robert Edgar would not have been expected to enlist at the outbreak of the Great War. Whether he did so or not is currently unknown but when conscription was introduced in January 1916 he would have had no choice. It is probable that he was assigned to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps at the outset of his military career because by the end of the war he had attained the rank of Sub-Conductor, the equivalent of staff sergeant major. Having survived the war he died in March 1920, possibly from illness or disease.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists R E Ford, Sub-Conductor (05609), Depot, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, died, 05/03/1920, aged 35 years. Buried at the Ashford Burial Ground, (Grave Ref: D.403.). Husband of Rosina Ford, of 54, Methuen Rd., Eastney, Portsmouth.
Robert Ford is commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015